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Friday, October 17, 2008

Paying People Not To Vote

Harland Harrison wrote:

HH) Now I understand what you do advocate, Brian Holtz. (HH

Instead of me having to re-quote myself multiple times, maybe next time
you should just re-read me multiple times.

HH) And they are terrible policies which would destroy what is left of
our freedom. (HH

Yeah, it would be just terrible if we had 1) completely secret ballots,
2) legalized direct-to-voter advertising spending, and 3) ballot tests
that required voters to pay attention to what candidates say.

HH) That means Republicans could pay Greens or Democrats not to vote,
and make sure they don't. (HH

Think a little more deeply about the resulting sociopolitical dynamics.
If a few people started getting paid not to vote, many of the fifty
million people who already don't vote would ether demand their own
payments or vote against the vote-buyers. Meanwhile, the rest of us
could compare public voter participation records to public voter
payments, and also add up how much each candidate pays to voters. (I've
long advocated summarizing campaign spending and financing directly on
the ballot.)

Making the system's existing rent-seeking more explicit would strengthen
democracy, not weaken it. But below we find out that you don't want to
talk about existing rent-seeking by voters, as long as they launder the
payoffs they receive by taking them as benefits financed by taxpayers
rather than as cash financed by politicians.

HH) The US outlawed literacy tests long ago. The government should not
be selecting the elite who can vote. (HH

So should five-year-olds be allowed to vote? Non-citizen residents?
Convicts of victimful crimes? People who receive more from the U.S.
Treasury than they pay into it?

HH) charges by themselves mean nothing; as the first step in
prosecution, a judge decides if charges have any merit (HH

Thank you for sharing this, um, interesting perspective on prosecutorial
discretion -- one of the most insidious and easily abused of the state's
powers. In your world, prosecutorial discretion "means nothing", but
paying people to join America's 50 million non-voters "would destroy
what is left of our freedom". Wow.

HH) When you vote you choose the representative for everybody, not just
for yourself. (HH

That in no way suggests that a voter represents others, or has an
obligation to any third party regarding her decision processes. You
still haven't answered my question about whether candidates should be
allowed to give voters a ride to the polls, or cab fare, or gasoline
reimbursement, etc. I've just ordered a bunch of Libertarian frisbees
to give away to college students; is that bribery?

BH) Do you dare claim that rent-seeking behavior by voters does not
influence election outcomes in America? Or will you just ignore this
question and make up more stuff about what I say or advocate? (BH

HH) Ok, I get it. Your voters are not part of "the nanny state's hordes
of rent-seekers"; just all the other districts are. (HH

Ah, so your choice is "make up more stuff about what I say". By now
it's clear why you oppose literacy tests for voting. I don't know which
is more hilarious -- 1) your continued fantasy that my observations
about rent-seeking apply in some special way to my district, or 2) your
quoting my challenge even as you flee from it.